Ruining Everybody's Life

Where will I worship? “Don’t let down your guard lest even now, today, someone—man or woman, clan or tribe—gets sidetracked from God, our God, and gets involved with the no-gods of the nations; lest some poisonous weed sprout and spread among you, a person who hears the words of the Covenant-oath but exempts himself, thinking, ‘I’ll live just the way I please, thank you,’ and ends up ruining life for everybody. God won’t let him off the hook.”--Moses, Deuteronomy 29, The Message

This past quarter, I have been working my way through the Pentateuch, which is the first five books of the Bible, traditionally attributed to Moses. It has been a wonderful journey through the desert with the Israelites---not so much because I like them, but because I am so much like them. Their rebellion, their complaining, their sin---I can totally relate to all of it. What has stood out to me though is not how sinful they were, but how gracious God is. I am still stewing on this and will continue to do so for the month.

If you've been following along with our adoption story, you will know that it has been a hard time of adjustment. I don't know if I could ever have adequately prepared for it. I wish I could say that I have trusted the Lord throughout this whole time, but I know I haven't. Like Peter, we stepped out in faith to adopt Anah, but when the waves of reality hit, I did exactly what he did---sink.

And sink I did. I sank into self-pity, anger, bitterness, and resentment. I did not guard my heart as Moses warned the Israelites. And when we do not guard our hearts, we are easily sidetracked. I went down paths that I am not proud of. The no-god of self began to surface as my true god. Its poisonous roots took root and entrenched in my heart. I confess I did nothing to root them out, but let my selfishness rule, letting my anger spew out on others."I'll live just the way I please, thank you."

But the problem with this is that I do not live in a vacuum alone. I occupy my square foot of space with others: my husband, my children, my friends, my church, my neighbors. When I read those chilling words in Deuteronomy---"ends up ruining life for everybody"---I was caught short. The consequences of my sin do not affect me alone. They affect and infect everyone with whom I come into contact.

My first thought was: "Well, you'd be angry too if everything you enjoyed was taken away from you. I'm just grieving the loss." I used this thinking as an excuse for my poor behavior. However, the only thing with this kind of thinking is that it implies that I am a victim. I convince myself that I have no choice but to be bitter.

Thankfully, the gentle voice of our Savior reminded me that this is not true. I always have a choice. I cannot blame my sinful behavior on any person or circumstance. I can trust Him or I can curse Him. That is my crossroads every day.

This doesn't mean that I minimize or negate the pain of loss or pretend that it isn't hard. But there is a difference between being honest before God and being angry at Him and blaming Him for the mess I'm in. I'm afraid that I did the latter.

So I am realizing now that I have a choice today, right now. I can walk through today with Him or without Him. If I walk without Him, I am in essence walking according the god of self and that will lead to a poisoning of my soul. Or I can walk with Him and find grace and strength to face the challenges of the day.

It's my choice. Will I bless others or ruin everything for everybody?